Photo gallery: There’s no place to hide for creatures at Banham Zoo

If stock taking conjures up images of dusty shelves and boring data then think again, for one Norfolk attraction has begun its annual count with a difference.

Banham Zoo will carry out its annual inventory alongside its sister site Africa Alive during which every specimen within the parks' 62 different species must be counted.

From giraffes, camels and Siberian tigers, to individual snails, cockroaches and spiders, every creature must be accounted for in order to renew the zoo's licence.

The data is also sent to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help track conservation programmes.

Zoo animal record keeper, Clare Collins, said: 'There tend to be really easy animals, like the giraffes and seals, but with things like the cockroaches we've counted 1,458, so to count them everyday would be quite a big challenge. Doing it once a year means we can keep a handle on what we've got.

'It's also good for us to keep an eye on other species like the red squirrels because they don't tend to come and see us so we'll get some tasty treats and wait until a warmer day and try to lure them out.

'It's good for the animals who might not come out and who we don't see because we can check on them and check their weight and things like that.'

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Since its last audit, notable highlights have included breeding successes for the zoo's Pallas' cats which raised four kittens in April, while the last additions to the stock count were twin emperor tamarin babies, born on Christmas Eve.

Ms Collins said the numbers usually tallied with the zoo's computer records, and added: 'It tends to stay around a similar mark and they're pretty good at staying stable but it's an important job.'

Keeping the records up to date is not only key to the annual inventory, but also to conservation as together the zoos hold 62 different species that are part of managed breeding programmes.

The coordinators of the programmes, who include zoo experts from around the world, will then contact the animal record keeper for their annual inventories and, based on this, can advise on where best to send animals and which should breed in the coming year.